2 Samuel 18 Amplified Bible (AMP)
18 David numbered the men who were with him and set over them commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds. 2 Then David sent the [a]army out, a third under the command of Joab, a third under Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab’s brother, and a third under the command of Ittai the Gittite. And the king said to the [b]men, “I myself will certainly go out [to fight] with you.” 3 But the men said, “You should not go out [to battle with us]. For if in fact we retreat, they will not care about us; even if half of us die, they will not care about us. But you are worth ten thousand of us. So now it is better that you be ready to help us from the city [of Mahanaim].” 4 Then the king said to them, “I will do whatever seems best to you.” So the king stood beside the gate [of Mahanaim], and all the army went out in groups of hundreds and of thousands. 5 The king commanded Joab and Abishai and Ittai, saying, “Deal gently with the young man Absalom for my sake.” And all the men heard when the king gave orders to all the commanders about Absalom.
6 So the men went out into the field against Israel, and the battle was fought in the forest of Ephraim. 7 The men of Israel [who supported Absalom] were defeated there by the [c]men of David, and a great slaughter took place there that day, 20,000 men. 8 For the battle there was spread out over the surface of the entire countryside, and the [hazards of the] forest devoured more men that day than did the sword.
9 Now Absalom met the servants of David. Absalom was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a massive tree, and his [d]head was caught in [the thick branches of] the tree; and he was left hanging [in midair] between heaven and earth, while the mule that had been under him kept going. 10 A certain man saw it and informed Joab, saying, “I saw Absalom hanging in a tree.” 11 Joab said to the man who informed him, “You saw him! Why then did you not strike him there to the ground? [e]I would have given you ten pieces of silver and a belt.” 12 The man told Joab, “Even if I were to feel the weight of a thousand pieces of silver in my hands, I would not put out my hand against the king’s son; for [f]we all heard the king command you, Abishai, and Ittai, saying, ‘Protect the young man Absalom, for my sake.’ 13 Otherwise, if I had acted treacherously against his life (for nothing is hidden from the king) you yourself would have [g]taken sides against me.” 14 Joab said, “I will not waste time with you.” So he took three spears in his hand and thrust them through the heart of Absalom while he was still alive [and caught] in the midst of the tree. 15 And ten young men, Joab’s armor bearers, surrounded and struck Absalom and killed him.
16 Then Joab blew the trumpet [to signal the end of the combat], and the men returned from pursuing Israel, for Joab held them back. 17 They took [down the body of] Absalom and threw him into a deep pit in the forest and set up a huge mound of stones over him. Then all Israel fled, everyone to his own tent. 18 Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and set up for himself a memorial pillar which is in the King’s Valley, for he said, “I have [h]no son to keep my name in remembrance.” He named the memorial pillar after himself, and to this day it is called [i]Absalom’s Monument.
David Is Grief-stricken
19 Then Ahimaaz the son of Zadok, said, “Let me run and bring the king news that the Lord has vindicated him by rescuing him from [the power of] his enemies.” 20 But Joab told him, “You are not the man to carry news [to King David] today, but you shall carry news another day. On this day you shall carry no news, because the king’s son is dead.” 21 Then Joab said to the Cushite (Ethiopian), “Go, tell the king what you have seen.” And the Cushite bowed to Joab and ran. 22 Then Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said again to Joab, “But whatever happens, please let me also run after the Cushite.” Joab said, “Why should you run, my son, seeing you will have no messenger’s reward for going [because you have only bad news]?” 23 “But whatever happens, Let me run.” So Joab said to him, “Run.” Then Ahimaaz ran by the way of the plain [of the Jordan River] and outran the Cushite.
24 Now David was sitting between the two gates; and the lookout went up to the roof of the gate by the wall, and when he raised his eyes and looked, he saw a man running alone. 25 The lookout called down and told the king. The king said, “If he is alone, he has good news to tell.” And he came nearer and nearer. 26 Then the lookout saw another man running, and he called to the gatekeeper and said, “Look, another man running alone.” The king said, “He also is bringing good news.” 27 The lookout said, “I think the man in front runs like Ahimaaz the son of Zadok.” The king said, “He is a good man and is coming with good news.”
28 And Ahimaaz called out and said to the king, “[j]All is well.” And he bowed before the king with his face to the ground and said, “Blessed be the Lord your God, who has handed over the men who lifted up their hands [to fight] against my lord the king.” 29 The king asked, “Is the young man Absalom safe?” Ahimaaz answered, “When Joab sent the king’s servant, and your servant, I saw a great turmoil, but I do not know what it was about.” 30 The king told him, “Step aside; stand here.” And he stepped aside and stood still.
31 Behold, the Cushite (Ethiopian) arrived, and said, “Let my lord the king receive good news, for the Lord has vindicated you today by rescuing you from the hand (power) of all those who stood against you.” 32 The king asked the Cushite, “Is the young man Absalom [my son] safe?” The Cushite replied, “May the enemies of my lord the king, and all those who rise against you to do evil, be [dead] like that young man is.”
33 [k]The king was deeply moved and went to the upper room over the gate and wept [in sorrow]. And this is what he said as he walked: “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! [l]How I wish that I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!”
2 Samuel 18 New International Version (NIV)
18 David mustered the men who were with him and appointed over them commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds. 2 David sent out his troops, a third under the command of Joab, a third under Joab’s brother Abishai son of Zeruiah, and a third under Ittai the Gittite. The king told the troops, “I myself will surely march out with you.”
3 But the men said, “You must not go out; if we are forced to flee, they won’t care about us. Even if half of us die, they won’t care; but you are worth ten thousand of us.[a] It would be better now for you to give us support from the city.”
4 The king answered, “I will do whatever seems best to you.”
So the king stood beside the gate while all his men marched out in units of hundreds and of thousands. 5 The king commanded Joab, Abishai and Ittai, “Be gentle with the young man Absalom for my sake.” And all the troops heard the king giving orders concerning Absalom to each of the commanders.
6 David’s army marched out of the city to fight Israel, and the battle took place in the forest of Ephraim. 7 There Israel’s troops were routed by David’s men, and the casualties that day were great—twenty thousand men. 8 The battle spread out over the whole countryside, and the forest swallowed up more men that day than the sword.
9 Now Absalom happened to meet David’s men. He was riding his mule, and as the mule went under the thick branches of a large oak, Absalom’s hair got caught in the tree. He was left hanging in midair, while the mule he was riding kept on going.
10 When one of the men saw what had happened, he told Joab, “I just saw Absalom hanging in an oak tree.”
11 Joab said to the man who had told him this, “What! You saw him? Why didn’t you strike him to the ground right there? Then I would have had to give you ten shekels[b] of silver and a warrior’s belt.”
12 But the man replied, “Even if a thousand shekels[c] were weighed out into my hands, I would not lay a hand on the king’s son. In our hearing the king commanded you and Abishai and Ittai, ‘Protect the young man Absalom for my sake.[d]’ 13 And if I had put my life in jeopardy[e]—and nothing is hidden from the king—you would have kept your distance from me.”
14 Joab said, “I’m not going to wait like this for you.” So he took three javelins in his hand and plunged them into Absalom’s heart while Absalom was still alive in the oak tree. 15 And ten of Joab’s armor-bearers surrounded Absalom, struck him and killed him.
16 Then Joab sounded the trumpet, and the troops stopped pursuing Israel, for Joab halted them. 17 They took Absalom, threw him into a big pit in the forest and piled up a large heap of rocks over him. Meanwhile, all the Israelites fled to their homes.
18 During his lifetime Absalom had taken a pillar and erected it in the King’s Valley as a monument to himself, for he thought, “I have no son to carry on the memory of my name.” He named the pillar after himself, and it is called Absalom’s Monument to this day.
19 Now Ahimaaz son of Zadok said, “Let me run and take the news to the king that the Lord has vindicated him by delivering him from the hand of his enemies.”
20 “You are not the one to take the news today,” Joab told him. “You may take the news another time, but you must not do so today, because the king’s son is dead.”
21 Then Joab said to a Cushite, “Go, tell the king what you have seen.” The Cushite bowed down before Joab and ran off.
22 Ahimaaz son of Zadok again said to Joab, “Come what may, please let me run behind the Cushite.”
But Joab replied, “My son, why do you want to go? You don’t have any news that will bring you a reward.”
23 He said, “Come what may, I want to run.”
So Joab said, “Run!” Then Ahimaaz ran by way of the plain[f] and outran the Cushite.
24 While David was sitting between the inner and outer gates, the watchman went up to the roof of the gateway by the wall. As he looked out, he saw a man running alone. 25 The watchman called out to the king and reported it.
The king said, “If he is alone, he must have good news.” And the runner came closer and closer.
26 Then the watchman saw another runner, and he called down to the gatekeeper, “Look, another man running alone!”
The king said, “He must be bringing good news, too.”
27 The watchman said, “It seems to me that the first one runs like Ahimaaz son of Zadok.”
“He’s a good man,” the king said. “He comes with good news.”
28 Then Ahimaaz called out to the king, “All is well!” He bowed down before the king with his face to the ground and said, “Praise be to the Lord your God! He has delivered up those who lifted their hands against my lord the king.”
29 The king asked, “Is the young man Absalom safe?”
Ahimaaz answered, “I saw great confusion just as Joab was about to send the king’s servant and me, your servant, but I don’t know what it was.”
30 The king said, “Stand aside and wait here.” So he stepped aside and stood there.
31 Then the Cushite arrived and said, “My lord the king, hear the good news! The Lord has vindicated you today by delivering you from the hand of all who rose up against you.”
32 The king asked the Cushite, “Is the young man Absalom safe?”
The Cushite replied, “May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up to harm you be like that young man.”
33 The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!”[g]